Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • In Fox v. City of Austin, a Christian minister who has been a volunteer fire department chaplain filed suit in a Texas federal district court alleging that his free speech and free exercise rights were violated when the fire department terminated him as chaplain because of his social media posts. 
  • In Lowe v. Mills, a Maine federal district court rejected challenges by seven healthcare workers to Maine’s COVID vaccination requirement for healthcare workers. While medical exemptions to the requirement are available, no such exemption applies to religion. The court rejected the plaintiffs’ Title VII religious discrimination and free exercise claims. 
  • In People v. Calvary Chapel, San Jose, a California state appellate court annulled contempt orders imposed by a trial court and reversed the trial court’s imposition of monetary sanctions, which resulted from a church’s refusal to comply with state COVID public health orders. 
  • The Department of Agriculture issued a Guidance clarifying that a Title IX exemption is available for religious educational institutions if there is a conflict between Title IX and a school’s governing religious tenets. 
  • As part of a settlement with the national organization, American Atheists, Arkansas state Senator Jason Rapert will have to unblock his atheist constituents from his social media account. Senator Rapert is also required to pay more than $16,000 to American Atheists for costs related to the lawsuit. 
  • The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia sent to Parliament its Final Report on its Review of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984. The Report makes 163 recommendations for changes in Western Australia’s anti-discrimination laws. In connection with the Act’s ban on discrimination based on religious conviction, the Report’s Recommendation 51 provides updates on how “religious conviction” should be defined in the Act. 

Farrar & Krayem, “Accommodating Muslims under Common Law”

This month, Routledge releases “Accommodating Muslims under Common Law: A Comparative Analysis,” by Salim Farrar (University of Sydney) and Ghena Krayem (University of Sydney).  The publisher’s description follows:

The book explores the relationship between Muslims, the Common Law and Shari’ah post-9/11. The book looks at the accommodation of Shari’ah Law within Western 9780415710466Common Law legal traditions and the role of the judiciary, in particular, in drawing boundaries for secular democratic states with Muslim populations who want resolutions to conflicts that also comply with the dictates of their faith.

Salim Farrar and Ghena Krayem consider the question of recognition of Shari’ah by looking at how the flexibilities that exists in both the Common Law and Shari’ah provide unexplored avenues for navigation and accommodation. The issue is explored in a comparative context across several jurisdictions and case law is examined in the contexts of family law, business and crime from selected jurisdictions with significant Muslim minority populations including: Australia, Canada, England and Wales, and the United States. The book examines how Muslims and the broader community have framed their claims for recognition against a backdrop of terrorism fears, and how Common Law judiciaries have responded within their constitutional and statutory confines and also within the contemporary contexts of demands for equality, neutrality and universal human rights. Acknowledging the inherent pragmatism, flexibility and values of the Common Law, the authors argue that the controversial issue of accommodation of Shari’ah is not necessarily one that requires the establishment of a separate and parallel legal system.

“Religion after Secularization in Australia” (Stanley ed.)

In September, Palgrave Macmillan released “Religion after Secularization in Australia” edited by Timothy Stanley (University of Newcastle, Australia). The publisher’s description follows:

Religion’s persistent and new visibility in political life has prompted a 9781137536891
significant global debate. One of this debate’s key features concerns the nature and impact of secularization. This collection of essays draws together leading sociologists, historians, philosophers of religion, and political theorists in order to provide a broad and up-to-date account of religion after secularization. Contributors explore the meaning and conceptual legacies of religion, as well as the unique features of the Australian case such as religion as it relates to law, education, gender, media, and radical political movements. Intervening in the current debate, this book provides summative accounts of the history, culture, and legal interactions that have informed Australia’s relationship to religion and secularization. Contributors critically analyze and engage with secular political theory concerning the public sphere, while also dissecting deliberative politics and democratic practices. This book propels the debate over religion’s place in public life in new directions and promotes urgently needed public understanding.

“Methodism in Australia: A History” (O’Brien & Carey, eds.)

In May, Ashgate will release “Methodism in Australia: A History” edited by Glen O’Brien (Sydney College of Divinity) and Hilary M. Carey (University of Bristol). The publisher’s description follows:

Methodism has played a major role in all areas of public life in Australia but has been particularly significant for its influence on education, social welfare, missions to Aboriginal people and the Pacific Islands and the role of women. Drawing together a team of historical experts, Methodism in Australia presents a critical introduction to one of the most important religious movements in Australia’s settlement history and beyond. Offering ground-breaking regional studies of the development of Methodism, this book considers a broad range of issues including Australian Methodist religious experience, worship and music, Methodist intellectuals, and missions to Australia and the Pacific.